by Adam McOmber
TWO MEN CAME to my house late one night.
This was last October after Tom had gone away. He said he did not love me as he once had. So I was left there all alone at the old farmstead.
The moon was yellow and the wind cold. And I will tell you these men did not arrive as men should.
There was no rumble of an engine. No headlamps in the drive.
Instead, the two men walked in silence out of the high and tasseled corn. They moved all stiff. As if they had been laid up somewhere and resting during the day.
I watched them come. And the closer they drew, the more I understood they were not as men should be.
They had eyes, yes. But the eyes were black and painted-looking. And they had mouths. But the mouths were thin and fine like scratches made on paper.
I wondered what Tom would say if he saw such men. Would he tell me, John, there is nothing to be afraid of in a thing like this?
The two men walked onto the porch and called out to me.
One of them said he had some news.
So I pulled back the curtain to let them know I listened.
The man looked at me with his painted eyes and said, ‘I need to grow a second body.’
He spoke these words very plainly as if they might be the sort of thing any visitor would say.
I stared at him. And in return, he stared at me.
Finally, I called out: ‘Is that all you have to tell me then? My friend Tom is at the factory. He’s coming back here soon.’
The two men did not look at each other or make a sign. But I could tell they conferred in some manner.
Then, the other man, the one who hadn’t spoken yet said, ‘We are all choked. And our tears are lying on a half-missing face.’
At that point, I worried my voice would quaver. I wished so much that Tom was with me still. I said, ‘All right, I’ve heard you. Now step down off my porch.’
The two men made no response. Then one of them walked up and knocked on my door as if he’d only just arrived.
I thought to get Tom’s old rifle from the gun cabinet, but I did not want to take my eyes off these men.
The one who stood at the edge of the porch was the last to speak. He said, ‘We slayed the language of God. And we are echoes now.’
I knew I should respond. I’d tell them more about how things used to be.
But before I could say a word, these men, they opened like wings.
Adam McOmber is the author of three novels, The White Forest (Touchstone), Jesus and John (Lethe)and The Ghost Finders (JournalStone) as well as three collections of short stories, My House Gathers Desires (BOA), This New & Poisonous Air (BOA)and Fantasy Kit (Black Lawrence). His new novel, Hound of the Baskervilles, an erotic and Weird reimagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle original was released by Lethe Press in October 2022. He is a core faculty member in the Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts as well as editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Hunger Mountain.